"The early history of Bristol is obscure. Although archaeological excavation is beginning to shed light on the development of the town, the townsmen left no written records to provide a picture of the political framework, within which the town emerged, nor of how power was mediated in the town". Thompson looks at early records of how Bristol was formed, and what events and factors influenced its early development.
In the years after 1600 Taunton was marked by a heady mixture of radical Puritanism and the volatile wool trade. Together these pitched Taunton into the centre of the Civil War in the area and, on two occasions in the second half of the seventeenth century, into open rebellion against the government. William Gibson follows Taunton’s transition from a centre of rebellion to peaceable borough in the eighteenth century.
Like many of the chalk hill figures of England, the Wiltshire White Horse on the hillside above Bratton dates back to the eighteenth century. In this article Brian Edwards, traces the history of this chalk figure back much further, looking into the origins of the ‘Alfred Horse’ which pre-dated it, in that very same spot. Edwards explores the customary lore of the earlier figure; as well as the potential political motivations for its creation, examining the argument for tracing it back to the Glorious Revolution.
'There is a considerable Welsh presence in contemporary Bristol. Welsh accents are often to be heard in the city's streets, and that presence has doubtless grown since the building of the two Severn bridges. This is by no means a modern phenomenon, however, and in this article, Peter Fleming explores the experiences of the Welsh in Bristol during the reign of the Welsh king of England, Henry VII'.
'What follows is a kind of murder mystery, but not a whodunit. The identity of the man who carried out the crime, while indeed a mystery, is probably unknowable and actually unimportant. There is little room for doubt as to the identity of the man who gave him the order. The real mystery lies with the identity of the victim. In attempting to solve the mystery, we shall enter the kaleidoscope of faction and violence that was high politics during the Wars of the Roses, and make the acquaintance of one of fifteenth-century England’s foremost alchemists'.
Five hundred years ago, Bristol was the second or third largest town in England ( only London, York, and possibly Norwich outstripped it in wealth and population), but was finding it difficult to maintain this position in the face of increasingly difficult economic conditions. Bristol shared in the problems besetting many of its rivals: population growth was held back by recurrent epidemics, with the result that levels of trade and demand for manufactured goods remained low, while the shortage of tenants meant that houses fell empty and soon decayed; the increasing competition from rural clothiers hit the urban textile industry, and the town's elite showed growing reluctance to volunteer for burdensome and costly civic office. Peter Fleming offers an insight to life in Bristol in the last decade of the fifteenth century.